Of late, I’ve found it really difficult to find the time to do various things and have had to stop doing the additional writing for Snowdon. There is a limit to how much you can do with the time available, and having a family and a full-time, fairly hectic job, mitigates against taking on large chunks of additional work. I’ve opted to rein things back in and instead focus on books. I have a couple of irons in the fire, but the current project is about Alf Engers. We met initially, very briefly, at the Pedal Club. He then rang me some weeks later to talk about cycling and essentially reeled off a string of anecdotes from the golden years. It was quite a surreal conversation.
Yesterday I made the trek to Engers Towers to start the process. We talked for around 3 or 4 hours about his life in cycling. I’m going to state the obvious; Alf’s life is fascinating and he is a heroic figure. For this reason, he is a complicated and intensely admirable chap. I found myself bowled over by his charisma, engaging personality and the staggering number of anecdotes.
The next step is to go through everything from the conversations, transcribe the text, add to the timeline I’ve got and begin sketching out the outline of the book. I’ll then write up sections that are full enough, and revisit Alf to get more depth and detail on gaps and thinner sections. At the end, he went through an enormous string of stories, seemingly unconnected in space and time, tales from the track at Portsmouth, on the F1, stories of characters in the trade, the works. Each of these was almost the basis of a short story in itself.
I’m going to speak with some contemporaries of Alf, including Eddie Adkins and Derek Cottington. I then need to get some additional colour on the likes of Len Thorpe, Ted Gerrard, Alan Shorter, although again, these are potentially books in themselves.
It goes without saying that I’m excited about this one.